COLUMBIA, Mo. — MFA Oil Co., a Big O Tires franchisee for the past 20 years, has grown to the No. 3 Big O franchisee nationwide with 18 locations and has plans for opening a pair of stores per year for the coming five years or so.
The Columbia-based business, a farmer-owned cooperative with more than 40,000 member-owners, will be growing under new executive leadership, however, as Rusty Coats, director of operations for the Big O Tires business, will be retiring later this summer after 15 years on the job.
The 79-year-old cooperative joined forces with Big O Tires in 1998 in a 50-50 partnership that both parties said at the time met their needs and desires to expand. At the time, MFA Oil was the distributor of TBC Corp.'s Multi-Mile private brand tire in Missouri, so the parties already had experience with one another.
The fledgling partnership launched with four retail stores in Springfield and Jefferson City, Mo., which MFA had acquired from Mr. Coats and then converted to Big O signage. Mr. Coats had been running those stores, under the Como Tire Supply banner, since the mid-1980s when he took over the business his father had founded decades before.